Download Bravestation’s new song “Signs of the Civilized”

Bravestation signs of the civilized

Bravestation’s back! After stowing away for half a year, the Toronto band who I feel like describing today as mystical wave rock have put forth their first new offering, “Signs of the Civilized,” from their upcoming album.

“Signs of the Civilized” is airy and promising. It flutters and flaps its wings like a baby bird getting ready for its first take-off while under the tree it sits in, there are fish in a stream swimming down their yearly route as the ground seems to thaw. Bravestation’s rejuvenated, bringing the spring closer to us than global warming already has (and for that I’m thankful, to be honest).

Take a listen to the calm confidence. You can download the track in exchange for your email address.

In response to The Grid’s “Is Toronto the greatest music city in the world?” article

the grid music city

This week's cover of The Grid. Courtesy of their website.

Here’s an unusual post for me and this blog. A rant! After griping about The Grid’s cover story on Twitter this morning and receiving a slightly overwhelming response, I’ve decided to air out my feelings here.

This week, The Grid got a cover story about music published. Awesome. But when it’s posing the question “Is Toronto the greatest music city in the world?” I somehow have a problem with it (and not because all of their covers look like web ads I would never click). I don’t want to have a problem with it, but I do. Here’s why.

Just because there are a lot of bands from Toronto on some popular Best of 2011 lists, that makes us worthy of ruling the world? I want to give a hearty congratulations to Feist, Fucked Up, Austra and even Drake for putting out successful albums last year. Good job. You guys did great! Critics loved you! But I don’t think you’re ready to rule the world quite yet. But hold up, since when did any city ever rule the world for their music? I have never heard of such a thing. I had never thought ‘Oh yeah New York City just dominates those little towns with their music scenes.’ Why do we feel like we have to rule the world? What competition is this? Don’t people realize that every city has lots of different kinds of music and LOTS of people who make it? Be happy with what your city is producing, and be proud people are getting a lot of recognition, but do we have to go farther than that? This is so sensational and something we’d say when we were teens.

Sure that article is the kind of post most writers secretly want to write. But I wouldn’t say they’d want to write it like the way it was written. Part of a music journalist’s job is to get the word out on who they think deserves it, and sure they want everyone to like what they like and see the good that comes from where they are. But it does not have to be done in such a shallow, vain and redundant article. And I bet anyone outside of Toronto barely cares and is even probably quite annoyed.

As someone who absolutely adores this city, works to promote it and its fantastic music scenes and has been thinking about ways to take closer looks at music scenes in cities, I want to like something like this. But I just can’t. I just feel face-palms. I like that we can show how we have many talented people working here and I like that others take notice, but let’s save this for our next tourism books and websites. In fact, I highly suggest that tourism channels for Toronto use the music scenes to get more people here.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

You don’t have to love all of the bands that have emanated from Toronto in the past decade to recognize that this has been a period of exceptional musical quality, not to mention bracing originality.

So has this gust of creativity made Toronto the greatest musical city in the world, more dynamic and vital than even London or New York? The question is deliberately grandiose, and, of course, impossible to answer.

Response to that: First paragraph – okay, cool, yay. This is true. Second paragraph – did you actually just write why this question is useless?

The New York Times blog even picked up. Written by a Torontonian. And yes I know this, because he wrote disclaimers in the post four times.

I guess because Megavideo’s down, Jay-Z’s back to saying the word bitch and we might finally be over Lana Del Ray, we don’t have much else to talk about.

Basically what I’m trying to say is: way to go Toronto, your stars shine pretty brightly these days. But whatever, we’re a city. Just like all the other cities. Now let’s go back to looking for more talented people, telling people about them, but with some context and modesty. There’s no need to rub an opinion like this in everyone else’s faces.

Contest: Win two tickets to HotKid, the Cheap Speakers, Dilly Dally & Alex Pulec DJ set

One lucky person and one lucky friend of theirs will win guest list spots to next Friday’s (July 15) killer Two Way Monologues show at Sneaky Dee’s. The wicked lineup is Dilly Dally, the Cheap Speakers, HotKid and a DJ set by the Ruby Spirit’s Alex Pulec.

TO ENTER:
Email roundletters @ gmail . com with “I want to get sweaty at Sneaky’s”
I will compile all the entries and pick a winner from a random draw. I will only contact the winner.

ENTER BY:
12:01AM Thursday July 12

Dilly Dally is a Newmarket-based pile of spunk. Their sound feels like those summer memories years ago that are just a daze but you’re reaching out in front of you trying to get them back just for a taste. It’s woozy but in the kind of way that one eyebrow is raised, always at the ready.

The Cheap Speakers is a Toronto rock band that I forsee will turn the volume and the crowd up on Friday night. They’re polite rabble rousers and it makes for a refreshing attitude. They’ve recently come off of an Eastern Canadian tour and are apparently armed with new material.

HotKid was on tour with Sloan just last week. The guy/gal duo have updated their website with blog posts about it a bazillion times since, so I’ll say there’s not much doubt that their excitement will be gone by next Friday yet, and I’m looking forward to hearing them blow the roof off the venue with their gritty garage rock.

Alex Pulec has been getting into DJ’ing surf rock and rockabilly around town lately and he’s ready to take over the last spot of the night, letting everyone continue to sweat it out to dance moves across the jumpy Sneaky’s floor. He’s been beefing up his vinyl collection, so get ready to Rock Around the Clock (or at least until last call).

Good luck!

Introducing: Static Zine

static zine - cover
Things around these parts have been a bit mum from me lately. I’ve been incredibly busy putting together the first issue of Static Zine – a fun new Toronto arts and life zine. Yes that’s right, a zine. Every time I go somewhere to drop them off now and say that word, I get some pretty funny looks. But this has worked out really well so far with an amazing team of contributors, already running out at numerous locations after a few hours and we’ve already been interviewed!

Besides just launching the zine, we also put together a mixtape of 16 Toronto bands: Maylee Todd, Sister, Austra, Bravestation, Heartbeat Hotel, Dora Alexander, Sports, Matters, Action Makes, The Ruby Spirit, Allie Hughes, Nightbox, The Meligrove Band, Timber Timbre, Bruce Peninsula and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

Download the first Static mixtape.

static flyerWe’re throwing a launch party on the last day of NXNE. Here’s the Facebook event, and you can see the show poster above.  We’ll have performances by Jeans Boots, Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers, Lowell Sostomi of Great Bloomers, The Ruby Spirit, Bravestation and Sister. I am beyond excited!

Interview: Austra’s Katie Stelmanis shows off opera training with electro-goth sound

The following was originally published on Spinner.ca.

austra interview

From goth and witch house to New Wave and electronic pop, Austra‘s lead singer Katie Stelmanis isn’t sure what genre her Toronto-based band falls into.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what to call it,” Stelmanis tells Spinner. “It’s pop music. It’s electronic music. You can say whatever you want. It’s not like I hate it if people call it witch house, it’s just I feel witch house is a small genre that isn’t going to take over the world or anything — it’s not like grunge. I think it’s just a convenient place where my music fits in right now.

“It’s funny because I have been making music with the same aesthetic for a long time — the music that I was making three years ago, people still claimed it to be goth.”

Stelmanis was a trained choir and opera singer before she released her solo album ‘Join Us’ and subsequently formed Austra — who will release their debut album, ‘Feel It Break,’ this week via Paper Bag Records/Domino — so some of those vocal styles and moods have found their way into her work.

CONTINUE READING OVER AT SPINNER.CA.

Interview: Graham Wright of Tokyo Police Club on Getting the Vote Out

The following story was originally published on Spinner.ca. (And as a special election day post.)

tokyo police club

With the Canadian election for Prime Minister coming to its final vote today, musicians have been abuzz with getting the word out to their fans. Though they’ve been on tour during the election campaign, Toronto-based Tokyo Police Club have still found the time to urge Canada’s eligible voters to do their part.

“It’s been hard to keep up with the news and everything,” keyboardist Graham Wright tells Spinner from a Calgary, AB, tour stop. “Just go vote. I hope people do; nobody ever does, it’s so easy not to.”

Wright, who is about to release his first solo album, ‘Shirts vs. Skins,’ says he wishes the band could have planned something more proactive for the election on their tour with recent Juno-winners Said the Whale, such as setting up voter registration at their shows.

CONTINUE READING OVER ON SPINNER.CA.

Watch Nightbox’s new video for “Pyramid”

Nightbox

The lads of Nightbox premiered their official music video for “Pyramid” via this week’s episode of The Wedge on Much Music. Now we have it via YouTube. Just in time for the weekend, as this is that cute dancey party track you’ve been waiting for. Watch the five-piece revel in colour and imagination at an old, abandoned house and in a field (it looks cooler than how I’ve described, honestly).

Pyramid can be heard on the band’s debut EP and as a single, downloaded for free.

The band will open for the Radio Dept at the Horseshoe on Sunday.

Check out new music from Rain Over St. Ambrose, Reversing Falls and Sports

Pack your week with some gritty guitars and satisfied gloomy skies with songs from Rain Over St. Ambrose, Reversing Falls and Sports. Then tell me that you feel at least a little more oomph in your steps.

Rain Over St Ambrose CoverRain Over St. Ambrose

“DG Gold Paint” is off their debut self-titled April-released EP. Packing crunchy Canadiana into three songs, this Yarmouth five-piece may have risen from the ashes of the unfortunate passing of singer Cory’s father (the band name is a testament to that), but they could work their way into a future with clearer skies. The single utilizes some classic rock patterns with the guitar, keyboard and drums and paired with Cory’s vocals, they remind me of The Hold Steady. Download the EP here.

mp3 download: Rain Over St. Ambrose – “DG Gold Paint”

reversing falls little goodbye doom beachReversing Falls

Here’s an edgy ear worm for you, straight from Montreal. Guitars power through to a trembling tempo and Tyler Crawford’s vocals go back and forth, solidifying the hooks. Part of a teaser EP with the darker song “Doom Beach,” it shows a promising future for the LP that is to come. The EP was produced by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre, The Unicorns). Download the EP and previous material at their BandCamp.

mp3 download: Reversing Falls – “Little Goodbye”

sports bandSports

This Toronto band has been working their way up to this full-length release with a much steadier pace as of late. The album, which you can download for free (or name your price), is full of energy, whether it be dark or light. My favourite track as of now is “Light,” which has this great bass hook line and thick, ghostly vocal structures. It’s one of the darker songs, and it feels good. The band will officially release the album on June 7 at the Horseshoe Tavern.

mp3 download: Sports – “Light”

Watch The Ruby Spirit perform two new songs, “Microhearts” and “Evolution Sickness”

The Ruby Spirit at Mohawk Place Buffalo

I had the absolute pleasure of accompanying my new friends The Ruby Spirit down to their show in Buffalo, NY (my hometown) on Friday. It was a blast of a day, ending with them killing it at Mohawk Place. They’ve recently flipped their set-list backwards, and turns out it made everything for the better. Besides their songs off the Born Under a Veil EP, they included two new hits, “Microhearts” and “Evolution Sickness.”

Watch ::

The Ruby Spirit will play the Band of Heroes comic release party at the Great Hall in Toronto on May 28 with The Wilderness, Bella Clava and the Lovely Killbots. All of the bands will be immortalized in a comic about them conquering Toronto.

Watch Austra’s new video for “Lose It”

austra

I’ve been listening to the new Austra album Feel it Break a lot lately (out May 17 via Domino/Paper Bag). I find it very hard to turn off somewhere before it actually ends. I’ve even sat and waited through it because it’s so good I don’t want to let it go. The band’s Toronto CD release is May 19 at Lee’s Palace, and tickets should still be on sale. Gotta say, Feel it Break seems to only be on the cusp of breaking out still, and it will, so keep a lookout. Here’s hoping that it makes its way onto the upcoming Polaris Prize long list.

Before your eyes scan down to the wacky new video for their second single, “Lose It,” here’s an article I have with lead singer Katie Stelmanis on queer identity in indie music and her love of Beth Ditto on Spinner. I was really glad I could write this, and there’s more on the band coming soon from me, I believe.